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Landmark Judgements on Quashing of FIR

19 min read

By Samriddhi Thakar

Introduction

Recently an esteemed journalist Mr. Vinod Dua was charged falsely under sedition law. Nowadays we hear many cases where innocent people are wrongfully accused of an act that is not done by them. Laws are made for the benefit and security of society.

But currently, we can see that many people are wasting the time of the Courts by filing false or malicious case against the person. Many people file false FIRs against the person to take revenge on that person.

Thus, this article deals with landmark judgements on quashing an FIR.

What is an FIR?

First Information Report commonly known as FIR is a written document prepared by the police officer. The document contains information about the offense committed. The offense is generally of two types cognizable and non-cognizable.

The cognizable offense is an offense in which a police officer may arrest a person without a warrant. They are authorized to start an investigation on their own and do not require any orders from the Court.

Whereas non-cognizable offenses are those where a warrant is required to arrest a person and they cannot start an investigation without the permission of the Court.

First Information Report is the first report which is filed by the aggrieved person to the police officer first in point of time. Anyone can file an FIR to the police officer. It can be filled orally, written, or even through telephonic conversation.

It is one of the most important documents as it gives an idea about the offense committed and it is only after registration of the report the investigation is started.

How can FIR be quashed?

The High Courts have the power to quash an FIR. If any Court finds that false or malicious FIR has been filed against a person, the High Court has the power to quash the FIR and set the innocent person free.

Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrP.C) explains the inherent powers of the High Court. It specifically mentions that the High Court has power to quash an FIR if it thinks that the FIR which has been filed is false and registered with the intention of troubling the aggrieved person.

Hence, the aggrieved person has right to approach the High Court and request them to quash the FIR registered against him.

The Supreme Court of India has clearly said that Section 482 of the CrP.C gives the High Court the power to quash an FIR and it cannot be questioned.

Landmark judgements on quashing of an FIR

  • Parbatbhai Aahir Vs State of Gujarat[1]

Laid down powers in relation to Section 482

This case is one of the important or landmark case as the Supreme Court has laid down certain powers related to Section 482 of the CrPC. They are as follows:

  • Section 482 preserves the inherent powers of the High Court to prevent an abuse of the process of any court or to secure the ends of justice. The provision does not confer new powers. It only recognises and preserves powers which inhere in the High Court.
  • While compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by the provisions of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
  • the High Court must evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power.
  • While the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised to secure the ends of justice or to prevent an abuse of the process of any court.
  •  The decision as to whether a complaint or FIR should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated;
  •  In the exercise of the power under Section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offence.
  • Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute.
  • Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences.

All these guidelines helped in the quashing of an FIR.

  • Som Mittal Vs Govt. of Karnataka[2]

When the exception can be applied

Facts

An unfortunate incident had occurred on 13th December 2005 in which late Smt. Pratibha Srikant Murthy was murdered on her way to work from her residence.

Pursuant to the aforesaid incident a complaint was filed on 27th December 2005 against the appellant alleging violation of Sections 25 and 30(3) of the Act before the Metropolitan Magistrate.

Further, a petition under Section 482 of CrP.C was filed before the High Court.

Held

It was held by the Court that the powers under Section 482 of CrP.C are not rules but an exception. Hence, the exception is applied only when it is brought to the notice of the Court that grave miscarriage of justice would be committed if the trial is allowed to proceed where the accused would be harassed unnecessarily if the trial is allowed to linger when prima facie it appears to Court that the trial would likely to be ended in acquittal.

In other words, the inherent power of the Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can be invoked by the High Court either to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

  • Vinod Dua Vs Union of India[3]

Sedition charges removed after quashing of FIR

Facts

On 30th June 2020, Mr. Vinod Dua, in his show namely The Vinod Dua show which aired on YouTube had made bizarre allegations against the Modi Government. He had alleged that the Government did not have enough testing facilities, PPE kits, and the exports of ventilators and sanitizers were stopped way later.

Hence, an FIR was filed against Dua and he was charged under Section 124A (Sedition), 268 (Public nuisance), 501 (Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by a BJP leader regarding comments made by the journalist in his YouTube video.

The Complainant had alleged that the journalist Vinod Dua made some false and malicious news by stating that PM had garnered the votes through acts of terrorism i.e. by using death and terror attacks. He also created panic among the people and disturbed public peace by spreading false information about the testing facilities.

Held

The bench led by Justice U.U Lalit took the reference of Kedar Nath Singh Case (which defined the ambit of the offense of sedition under Section 124A of the IPC) and held that “Every journalist will be entitled to be protected” under this case.

The Court also stated that no journalist could be arrested on sedition charges merely for criticizing the Government if it does not incite any violence against the Government or hatred between communities. The Court also held that charging Dua under the sedition would violate his freedom of speech and expression.

They also waived off the charge that was created against him under Disaster Management Act’s Section 52 (Punishment for false claim) and Section 54 (Punishment for false warning.) The Court further quashed the FIR registered against the journalist.

  • Lata Singh Vs State of UP[4]

Case of kidnapping of a girl quashed as the court held that the girl is an adult and can make her own decisions

Facts

The petitioner is a young woman aged 27and a graduate. Owing to the sudden death of her parents, she started living with her brother Ajay Pratap Singh at LDA Colony, Lucknow.

She left her brother’s house of her own free will and got married at Arya Samaj Mandir, Delhi to Bramha Nand Gupta who has business in Delhi and other places, and they have a child out of this wedlock.

Thereafter, the petitioner’s brother lodged a missing person report at Sarojini Nagar Police Station, Lucknow, and therefore, the police arrested two sisters of the petitioner’s husband along with the husband of one of the sisters and the cousin of the petitioner’s husband.

The petitioner’s brother also lodged a false FIR alleging kidnapping of the petitioner against her husband and his relatives at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow, due to which the sisters of the petitioner’s husband, and the husband of one of the sisters, were arrested and detained in Lucknow jail.

Held

The Court held that the petitioner is major and hence free to marry anyone she feels. The Court also held that no offense was committed by any of the accused and the whole criminal case in question is an abuse of the process of the Court as well as of the administrative machinery at the instance of the petitioner’s brothers who were only furious because the petitioner married outside her caste.

Hence, all the accused are released, and the FIR filed alleging the kidnapping of the petitioner stands quashed.

  • Sushil Sethi & Anr Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh[5]

Fraudulent or Dishonest Intention

Facts

A contract was entered between M/s SPML Infra Limited and the Government of Arunachal Pradesh for construction, supply, and commissioning of the Nurang Hydel Power Project including three power generating units for some consideration.

There were some disputes with respect to the payment of maintenance by the respondent. Thereafter, the respondent filed a complaint against the appellants and others under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) alleging that appellants provided inferior quality materials in contravention with the provisions of the contract. In course of physical inspection of the plant, the DOP found three runners, turbines were cracked and damaged.

Therefore, it was alleged that the appellants had supplied sub-standard turbines and hence an FIR was filed against them under Section 420 read with Section 120B of the IPC.

Held

It was held by the Court that there are no allegations that were dishonest intention or fraudulent intention of the appellants to cheat the other party from the very beginning of the transaction.

Hence, the FIR and charge-sheet filed against the appellants under Section 420 of the IPC are hereby quashed.

  • Geeta Mehrotra Vs State of UP & Anr[6]

FIR does not disclose any crime done by appellants, thus FIR quashed

Facts

Shipra Mehrotra was married to Shyamji Mehrotra as per the Hindu marriage rites and customs. Prior to marriage the complainant and her family members were told by Shyamji Mehrotra he is working as a Team Leader in a top I.T. Company in Chennai and is getting salary of Rs. 45,000/- per month. Hence, they were married, and the respondent left for the house of in-laws.

Soon after the wedding the people of the house started taunting and scolding her on small issues. She also came to know that her husband was not employed anywhere and used to stay at home all the times.

He took all her money and asked her to get dowry from her father saying that the dowry was not given properly. When the complainant declined getting money from her parents, the husband started beating her occasionally.

Later, the complainant took up a job in a Call Centre at Convergys where she had to do night shifts due to which she used to come back home at around 3 a.m. in the morning. Just on her return from work, the household people started playing bhajan cassettes after which she had to get up at 7’o clock in the morning to prepare and serve food to all the members in the family.

Often on falling asleep in the morning, Shyamji, Kamla Devi and Geeta Mehrotra tortured the complainant every day mentally and physically. Ramji Mehrotra often provoked the other three family members to torture and often used to make the complainant feel sad by making inappropriate statements about the complainant and her parents. Her husband Shyamji also took away the salary.

The husband went to Chennai for the job. But there was no change in his behaviour he used to talk in filthy language with his wife. She heard her mother-in-law and sister-in-law talking about killing her and for the same reason she left her home and went to stay with her parents.

The in-laws again accused her and asked her to get Rs. 10 lakhs and hence she filed an FIR under Section 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act at the nearest police station.

Held

The Court held that the FIR does not disclose any material regarding any offense committed by the two appellants Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra. Merely by making a general allegation that they were also involved in physical and mental torture of the complainant-respondent No.2 without mentioning even a single incident against them as also the fact as to how they could be motivated to demand dowry when they are only related as brother and sister of the complainant’s husband, we are pleased to quash and set aside the criminal proceedings in so far as these appellants are concerned and consequently the order passed by the High Court shall stand overruled.

Hence, the FIR was quashed, and the appellants were set free.

  • Anand Kumar Mohatta Vs State (Govt. of NCT Delhi)[7]

Prosecution is mala fide, untenable and solely intended to harass the Appellants

Facts

Appellants entered into an agreement with the Ansal Properties & Infrastructure Ltd regarding the development of the property owned by the Appellants for the construction of a high-rise building. The respondent no. 2 paid a sum of Rs. One crore as contemplated in the agreement.

The agreement was not fulfilled as new building regulations were introduced that prohibited the construction of high-rise building in the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, where the property is situated.

Thereafter, the Appellant No.1 wrote a letter stating that he does not wish to develop the property. Since, the appellants declined all the alternate offers from respondent no.2 on the ground that this security amount of Rs. One crore had not been refunded; respondent no. 2 filed an FIR against the appellants under Section 406 of the Indian Penal Code.

Therefore, the appellants approached the High Court seeking to quash their FIR under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

However, the High Court disposed of the Appellants’ petition filed under Section 482 on the ground that the petition has been filed pre-maturely as the case is still at the stage of investigation. Appellants thereafter preferred the present appeal by way of Special Leave Petition in this Court.

The Supreme Court protected the Appellants from arrest and directed that the investigation be continued. So, the Respondent No.1 carried out investigation and has filed a report under Section 173 of the Cr. P.C in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Court, Delhi.

Further, the appellants additionally filed amendment application seeking to incorporate prayer for quashing of charge sheet in addition to prayer for quashing of the FIR.

Held

The Supreme Court held that the prosecution is mala fide, untenable and solely intended to harass the Appellants. We are forfeited in view of the Respondent not having made any attempt to recover the deposit of Rs. One Crore through a civil action. We have, therefore, no hesitation in quashing the FIR and the charge sheet filed against the Appellants. 

Hence, the FIR and charge-sheet are hereby quashed.

  • Umair Vs State (Govt of NCT Delhi)[8]

FIR quashed as the appellant is very young

Facts

The complainant was on his way to go to the house of Furkan his neighbor where he met the accused who was arguing with his mother. The complainant asked the accused not to argue with his mother, but the accused started abusing the complainant and started fighting with him.

The accused slapped the complainant and when people gathered there the accused threatened the complainant and went towards his house. It is alleged that at about 11.30/12.30 the accused stabbed the complainant on the stomach. Therefore, the complainant was taken to L.N Hospital.

The doctor has recorded the present case to be one of physical assault and stab injury in the abdomen. Hence, FIR has been filed against the accused under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code.

Held

The Court held that keeping in mind the fact that the accused is a 21 year old youngster having entire life ahead of him and the fact that the parties have entered into a settlement, this Court is inclined to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of CrP.C to quash the FIR on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise.

The petitioner, who is appearing in person along with his counsel, is warned not to indulge in such activities and repeat the offense in future.

Hence, the FIR was quashed as the parties had entered a settlement.

  • Vima Divekar Vs Gautam Divekar[9]

FIR did not even prima facie show the ingredients of the alleged offences against the former Judge’s son

Facts

The woman and her husband along with their son when to live at her father’s house in Mahabaleshwar before the breakout of Covid-19. The lockdown was imposed and hence they all were stuck and had to live there for four months.

During this time, the couple’s son informed his father that he was sexually harassed by his grandfather. Hence, the mother and the father of the son went to the police station to lodge a complaint against the woman’s father.

However, the women filed a complaint/FIR against her husband and his mother under Section 498A, 344, 406, 504, 506 of the Indian Penal Code. Later, an FIR was also lodged against the father of the woman under IPC and Protection against Child Sexual Offenses (POCSO).

Held

The Court held that the allegations in the FIR did not even prima facie show the ingredients of the alleged offences against the former Judge’s son. In fact, some allegations of keeping an eye on her or restricting her from meeting her relatives were conspicuously absent & came across as an afterthought.

The Court observed that “In such cases, there is a pronounced tendency on the part of the complainant to rope in relatives of the husband due to the anger generated in the complainant against her husband, in the backdrop of acrimony & bitterness in their matrimonial life”. Hence, the FIR was quashed.

  • Sharda Prasad Sinha Vs State of Bihar[10]

FIR did not show enough evidence against appellant

Facts

On 31st December 1975 a New Years Eve was being celebrated in Bankipore Club, Patna. The appellant was the Honorary Secretary of that Club. A raid was carried out by the Assistant Commissioner of Excise, Inspector of Excise and Sub-inspector of excise. It was found that two women and five men were dancing and singing in the club premises.

The Excise Inspector filled an FIR against the appellant on 2 January 1976 charging him under Section 54(1)(a) and Section 54(c) of the Bihar and Orissa Excise Act, 1915.

It was held that conducting cabaret dances without obtaining permission is illegal and the appellant did not take permission of District Magistrate or any other authority for conducting cabaret. Hence, an FIR was filed against him.

Held

The Court held that it is difficult to see how the allegations contained in the complaint could be said to constitute an offence under Section 57(c). The complaint does not allege as to which condition of the licence was broken by the club or the appellant in allowing a caba- ret to be performed in the club premises.

Nor could the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State point out any such condition of the licence. The allegations contained in the complaint manifestly did not constitute an offense under Section 57(c).

Therefore, the FIR stands quashed.

  • State of Andhra Pradesh Vs Golconda Linga Swamy and Ors[11]

FIR not quashed as it was filed with malafide intention

Facts

It was a case where an allegation was made against the accused that he was either transporting or storing black jaggery/ molasses for the purpose of manufacturing illicit distilled liquor or was an abettor so far as the offence of manufacturing illicit liquor is concerned. Hence, an FIR was filed against him.

Held

The Supreme Court, in this case, held that the FIR cannot be quashed on the ground that it was filed with mala fide intentions. In a proceeding instituted on complaint, the exercise of the inherent powers to quash the proceedings is called for only in a case where the complaint does not disclose any offence or is frivolous, vexatious or oppressive.

  • R P Kapur Vs State of Punjab[12]

Quashing of proceedings is pertinent to stop abuse of process of court. 

Facts

M L Sethi filed an FIR against the appellant R.P Kapur. He alleged that he and his mother-in-law Mrs. Kaushalya Devi had committed offenses under Section 420,109,114 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.

The appellant found that for several months no further action was taken on the said FIR which was hanging like a sword over his head he filed a criminal complaint on April 1, 1959, against Mr. Sethi under Section 204,211, and 385 of the Indian Penal Code. He took upon himself the onus to prove that FIR lodged by Mr. Sethi was false.

Later, the appellant moved the Punjab High Court under Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing the proceedings initiated by the FIR in question.

Held

The Supreme Court in this case held that while dealing with the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court held that it is a well-established principle, that inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash criminal proceedings in proper case either to prevent the abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure ends of justice.

The High court would be reluctant to interfere with the criminal proceedings initiated at an interlocutory stage, however, there may be cases where quashing of proceedings is pertinent to stop abuse of process of court.

  • Dinesh Sharma & Others Vs State and Anr[13]

FIR cannot be quashed in heinous and serious cases even though the parties may have compromised

Facts

Dinesh Sharma was a distant relative of the complainant. He came to stay with her and her family in search of a job. One day he started looking at the complainant with strange eyes and started mocking her in jiffy when her parents were not at home.

One day he picked her up and started taking her in another room with wrong intentions and then she screamed, and he left her. The complainant told her parents about this and Dinesh was expelled from the house.

Later, complainant met Dinesh at a wedding. He along with his nephews Deepak and Vishal started asking her to their friends. At first, she refused.

Later, they started blackmailing her by saying they have her nude photos and if doesn’t accept their friendship they will release her photos on Facebook.

Hence, she told this to her parents and an FIR was registered against the boys under Section 354, 354D, 506, 509,34 of the IPC and Section 10 of the POCSO Act. Petition was filed by the boys under Section 482 of CrP.C for quashing the FIR on the ground that the prosecutrix and the petitioners have compromised the matter.

Held

It was held by the Court that an FIR cannot be quashed in heinous and serious cases even though the parties may have compromised. The Court said that heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. such offences are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society.  They cannot to be quashed merely on the basis of compromise between the victim and the offender.

Hence, in this case, the Court held that exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C to quash an offence under POCSO Act would go against the intention of the legislature which has brought out the special enactment to protect the interests of children.

The FIR cannot be quashed on the ground that the victim after attaining majority has decided to compromise the matter with the accused.

  • Sunil Raikwar Vs State & Anr[14]

The High Court cannot mechanically quash FIRs for non- compoundable offences by exercising powers under Section 482 CrP.C just because parties have decided to bury their hatchets

Facts

The complainant is a mason who lives with his seven-year-old child. He stated that will returning home from work, he found his son crying. After enquiring he got to know that the accused who stays in the same building came and sodomised the child. The underwear of the child was wet with blood.

Hence, an FIR was filed against the accused under Section 377 of the IPC along with Section 4 of the POCSO Act.

However, later the matter was settled amicably and hence a petition was filed to quash an FIR.

Held

It was held by the Court that the High Court cannot mechanically quash FIRs for non- compoundable offences by exercising powers under Section 482 CrP.C just because parties have decided to bury their hatchets. Permitting such offences to be compromised and quashing FIRs will not secure the interest of justice. The father of the victim cannot be permitted to settle the dispute with the accused.

He is not the victim and the courts have to safeguard and protect the interest of children against onslaught by bad forces. The court cannot permit quashing of the FIR because the father of the victim has decided to enter a compromise with the accused.

  • Bhajan Lal & Ors Vs State of Haryana[15]

Proceedings introduced due to malicious intent and thus quashed

Facts

Bhajan Lal during this case was the Union Minister of Environment and Forest. Devi Lal was elected as the Chief Minister of State of Haryana. The same election was lost by respondent 2, Dharam Pal against Smt. Jasma Devi, wife of Bhajan Lal.

Due to political rivalries and institutions of various criminal cases, there was rivalry between Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal. Therefore, the respondent made a complaint before Devi Lal against Bhajan Lal stating that he possesses disproportionate property or pecuniary resources compared to his indefinite sources of income.

He also alleged that the accumulation of property was beyond the legal means.

Hence, an FIR was registered under Section 161and 165 of the IPC along with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Held

It was held by the Court that where criminal proceedings are registered with malicious intent or for taking revenge or hurt the accused, due to personal reasons, such proceedings shall not be entertained and quashed.

Conclusion

Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code confers certain powers to the High Court to quash an FIR. However, this power should be used sparingly.

As stated in many cases above, even if the parties have buried the hatchets, heinous and serious offenses should not go unpunished as they are not an offence against the person but against the whole society. Thus, the High Court has been granted such an important power and that power should be used wisely.

References

  1. Parbatbhai Aahir Vs. State of Gujarat, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1723 OF 2017
  2. Som Mittal Vs. Govt. of Karnataka, Appeal (crl.) 206 of 2008
  3. Vinod Dua Vs. Union of India, (CRL.) NO.154 OF 2020
  4. Lata Singh Vs. State of UP, Writ Petition (crl.) 208 of 2004
  5. Sushil Sethi & Anr Vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 125   OF 2020
  6. Geeta Mehrotra Vs. State of UP & Anr, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1674 OF 2012
  7. Anand Kumar Mohatta Vs. State (Govt. of NCT Delhi), CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1395 OF 2018
  8. Umair Vs. State (Govt of NCT Delhi), CRL.M.C. 674/2021
  9. Vima Divekar Vs. Gautam Divekar, WRIT PETITION NO. 8180 OF 2019
  10. Sharda Prasad Sinha Vs. State of Bihar, 1977 AIR 1754
  11. State of Andhra Pradesh Vs. Golconda Linga Swamy and Ors, Appeal (crl.) 1180 of 2003
  12. R P Kapur Vs. State of Punjab, 1960 AIR 862
  13. Dinesh Sharma & Others Vs. State and Anr, CRL.M.C. 1002/2021
  14. Sunil Raikwar Vs. State & Anr, CRL.M.C. 186/2021
  15. Bhajan Lal & Ors Vs. State of Haryana, 1992 AIR 604